Everton 2 - 0 Bournemouth
Ever since the Roberto Martinez fairytale started to turn sour, somewhere between the Europa League defeat in Kiev in March 2015 and the consecutive home defeats to Leicester and Stoke the following Christmas, the issue of Goodison Park’s atmosphere has periodically been a topic of debate among Evertonians.
Where the librarial milieu that away fans like to mock is concerned, there’s often a push-pull between those who feel it’s incumbent on the crowd to generate the atmosphere from the off and those who put the onus on the team to excite the fans. Then, of course, there’s the altogether more concerning toxicity that was prevalent at times under Bobby Brown Shoes and then Ronald Koeman, something that was brought into sharper focus by Nikola Vlasic last week when he spoke of Everton’s players being paralysed by fear.
There might not have been outright fear to this point among the Blues’ ranks this season but the psychology has been off kilter since the derby defeat at Anfield and concerns over Everton’s home form since has been reflected in the performances. While there may be a general consensus that Marco Silva is going to need time and a good deal of patience to rectify the problems sown during those two regimes and the interim Sam Allardyce tenure, it’s been fairly obvious that supporters have been hugely disappointed with the way in which yet another season came off the rails.
Under those circumstances, it probably wasn’t surprising that there was an air of uneasiness about the place when what was an important game against Bournemouth kicked off at the unusual time of 2.15pm. With no home wins since late November and on a run of just Premier League win in eight since then, the importance of three points here wasn’t lost on anybody.
By the time the hour mark approached, however, roused by an additional common enemy, the villain of the piece wearing black and an improving, more robust and committed display by the players, Goodison was a good deal more animated and half an hour later the Evertonian collective was celebrating a victory. An ugly victory that masked some continuing issues but a victory nonetheless which will hopefully inject some confidence into the Blues’ veins.
Silva has routinely asked for more aggression from his team and he got plenty of it today even if, spurred on by seething injustice at one of the most inept refereeing displays seen at Goodison in quite a while, André Gomes in particular threatened to cross the line on more than a few occasions.
Having been harshly yellow-carded when he reacted to the latest in a litany of bafflingly poor decisions by Anthony Taylor, the Portuguese dangerously toed a tightrope in the closing stages and was fortunate not to see red.
Ultimately, though, Taylor’s horrendous refereeing provided the focal point that roused the Goodison faithful from that uncomfortable silence that had enveloped the majority of the ground as Everton laboured through a fairly torrid first half hour. Where Bournemouth, a side on a run of 10 defeats from 13 coming into the game and five losses on the bounce away from the Vitality Stadium, were zipping the ball around comfortably at times, the Toffees struggled to string three passes together in the face of the visitors’ pressing.
Not surprisingly, all the openings in the first quarter of an hour were created by Eddie Howe’s team. First, Ryan Fraser popped up in acres of space on the far side of the box to collect an overhit cross from the right and Jordan Pickford benefited from Josh King’s failure to dig the ball out from under his feet and was able to make a close-range save.
Then, David Brooks easily evaded Gomes and went down in the box appealing in vain for a penalty and Jefferson Lerma hammered a shot over the bar before Brooks was played into a one-on-one situation with Pickford but struck his shot off the post with Goodison erupting in boos at referee Taylor for failing to bring the play back for an obvious foul on Kurt Zouma.
It was the first of many baffling and infuriating decisions by the official who ratcheted up Evertonian ire when he awarded Adam Smith a free kick for falling into Gomes on the edge of the box. Pickford was equal to it, pushing Junior Stanislas’s free kick behind but the England keeper, with his international boss, Gareth Southgate in attendance in the directors’ box, set the nerves jangling shortly afterwards when he gave the ball straight to the visitors and was relieved to see King head Fraser’s cross over.
Everton, largely passed off their own patch for 30 minutes, then gradually came to life, with Ademola Lookman, handed another start in place of Theo Walcott, leading the charge. It was his cross from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross that picked out Bernard in the centre but the diminutive Brazilian couldn’t put his header on target, and it was the same duo who reversed roles soon afterwards with Lookman just failing to control Bernard’s dangerous cross in front of goal.
Michael Keane would drop a header from a Lucas Digne cross onto the top of the crossbar late in the half before Richarlison, struggling to impact the contest as the loan striker, was finally awarded a free kick outside the box but Digne fired it into the wall.
In contrast to recent matches, whatever Silva said in the dressing room at half time had the desired effect of injecting some urgency into his players who emerged from the interval in more purposeful mood. And after Gomes had skied an immediate chance into the Gwladys Street End, Richarlison came within inches of padding this tally for the season.
The Brazilian’s header off Idrissa Gueye’s cross came back to him off a defender and his follow-up shot appeared goal-bound until Nathan Aké cleared it, literally off the goal line, and the chance was lost.
Steve Cook glanced a header onto the roof of the net at one end to remind the Blues that the Cherries remained a threat but the deadlock was broken at the other in the 61st minute thanks to a wonderful piece of individual endeavour from Digne.
An attempted Seamus Coleman cross off Lookman’s pass was blocked behind for another corner and when that delivery was nodded outside the box by the visiting defence, the ball was collected in stride by Digne. The Frenchman drove to the byline and, going away from goal, he expertly hooked a cross to the edge of the six-yard box where Zouma powered home his first Everton goal.
Bournemouth were unbowed, though, and an often bad-tempered affair remained nervily close until stoppage time, with the referee’s incompetence fuelling anger on both sides. Taylor awarded another dubious free kick, this time against Gueye even though he had clearly got a toe on the ball, leading to a furious reaction from Gomes who got booked for squaring up to an opponent in the aftermath.
Then, after Richarlison had headed a teasing Sigurdsson cross wide and Keane’s slip-up had let King in but the striker had smashed into the side-netting, Gomes escaped a second yellow when he easily could have walked for catching Cook after the ball had gone.
It said much about Silva’s faith — or dependence — on his compatriot that he left Gomes on the pitch until the final whistle because he looked like a red card waiting to happen in the closing stages.
Bournemouth were staging a last-ditch attempt to grab a point and Pickford was called upon to slide out of his six-yard box to block one effort and Keane made a brilliant saving tackle to deny
Fraser Gosling a minute or so later, the goalkeeper again required to get his body in the way to see the Cherries defender’s follow-up shot behind.
In between, Gomes had got away with a sly pull around Nathaniel Clyne's head just inside the Everton area that, had the officials seen it, would have resulted in his certain dismissal and a penalty to the away side but his transgression was only picked up television replays.
Yerry Mina was thrown on by Silva in injury time to bolster the defence but Everton remained jittery as Coleman mis-controlled and conceded another corner before a second set-piece seconds later ended in Pickford’s arms.
One last boot downfield from the keeper eventually ended with Lookman scrambling to his feet after knocking the ball infield and running into space down the left flank to collect Gueye's pass where he held up long enough for substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin to arrive about 16 yards out to stroke the winger’s pass into the net with a wonderfully composed finish.
It was a reminder of what the young striker can do at a time when Everton’s lack of cutting edge up front dominates the thinking. Calvert-Lewin has struggled to show the consistency required of a first-choice starter but can produce clinical moments like this one and chip in with important goals.
It was also pleasing that his assist was provided by Lookman, a reward and consequence of a man-of-the-match display that was the first concrete example of him demonstrating he can produce over the course of 90 minutes and not just as an impact sub.
More will be asked of him, of course, particularly next week at Southampton at away ground, but his undoubted natural talent, movement and eye for goal are the kinds of qualities that Everton are going to need over the remainder of the season.
What remains to be seen now, though, is what effect this result has on the nature of Everton’s performances going forward and whether it’s a fillip that can get them back to playing the way they were pre-Anfield. The lack of passing options, an over-reliance on getting the ball wide for crosses into the box and the disconnect that is often in evidence between the midfield and the two central forward players continue to be a concern and a challenge for Silva to resolve.
Reader Comments (25)
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1 Posted 15/01/2019 at 06:50:36
Someone on another thread recently mentioned a Moyes team always having an edge in terms of fitness. Another thing his teams had was a touch of aggression. Perhaps this has been the missing ingredient in Silva's Everton team this season.
Flair football is all well and good but a lack of bite will win you nothing.
A scrappy ugly win but I think this game has taught Silva and his squad more than the rest of the season put together.
2 Posted 15/01/2019 at 07:31:15
Once Everton's players, started getting closer to each other, they started winning a lot more second or loose balls, and then the system that looked flawed, began to look like a system that just might work.
But please get us a centre-forward, so we can begin to rotate Richarlison and Bernard, Bernard and Sigurdsson, and Sigurdsson with Gomes, if that makes any sense.
3 Posted 15/01/2019 at 10:51:52
Aggression in football is an interesting subject. Silva has over the last run of matches and in the first half against Bournemouth, failed to tactically deal with a high defensive line, allowing the opposition to control midfield, pin the wingbacks back and nullify the Everton attacking threat.
Having failed, Silva's solution is aggression, clearly evident in isolated instances in the first half and collectively in the second half, against Bournemouth. Aggression worked achieving turnovers, but was picked up by the referees antennae. Any experienced referee , once he gets the overall feeling of aggression, starts to assert his authority to redress the balance to stop things getting out of control.
Bournemouth where naive: not protesting more, not drawing the tackle or plain laying down. Against the top four, they would have seen it as an easy day of the office, getting at least one Everton player sent off.
There lies the problem aggression is not competitiveness. It compensating for not being tactically and technically proficient. Silva hasn't got a solution to the high defensive line. His coaching on pass-completion, link play and positioning is poor. His selection of Coleman over Kenny and Richarlison over Calvert-Lewin shows that he doesn't see the right-wing weaknesses and the pass
Completion weakness at the heart of the attack, respectively.
Bernard and Lookman are successful, because of good pass completion, good link play and good positioning. The stats shows that Lookman was one of the Everton players most on the ball and Bernard was one of the most successful tacklers. This is a result of the above competitive qualities. Since the start of the season Everton performance in these areas in attack have been abysmal. The selection of Richarlison over Calvert-Lewin clearly shows that Silva does not look at Richarlison's stats in these areas. Calvert-Lewin is far better and would benefit from playing with Bernard and Lookman. Alas, Tosun has additional areas of weakness.
So aggression, which is Silva's solution, is short-term, but it will not compensate for unaddressed tactical and technically coaching weaknesses, the real building blocks of competitiveness.
I have seen so many Managers under pressure adopt the aggressive solution. They don't last long.
4 Posted 15/01/2019 at 14:43:25
I've been advocating for Lookman's case for a very long time, almost since he joined the club – always felt there was excellence there. At last, yesterday, he had the chance to show that he belongs in the starting 11. I trust now he will remain there.
I have not yet made up my mind regarding Silva, but yesterday was a huge red mark against him IMO. He did not have the side mentally or tactically prepared, and considering the competition and the venue, the first half was clearly the worst I have seen this season. And there is no way to characterize the Gomes decision as anything but a huge blunder – the player should have seen red THREE times. He should have been subbed out, and Silva's failure to do so wasn't keeping faith – it was flat-out malpractice. He was incredibly fortunate to get away with it.
5 Posted 15/01/2019 at 15:12:15
Silva may improve, and it also may be a mistake to make yet another change... but I have no confidence in this manager.
His subs, for most part, are nonsense. I thought when he bought on Walcott for Bernard that finally he would put him up with Richarlison on the left. Wrong again. Every one of our forward players all seem more comfortable playing narrower so I hate this 4-2-3-1 and seeing them forced wide and then forced to chase back.
6 Posted 15/01/2019 at 15:24:29
I have to say that there is plenty to work on and the manager has got to make a call on his preference up front, he seems to change the front three every week.
I would love to see the manager turn things around as the performances up to and including the Liverpool game suggested that we could be making significant progress.
7 Posted 15/01/2019 at 15:57:43
During Moyes's time, that was when we were most lethal. When we are fitter than our opponents, aggression comes naturally.
We should get Moyes back.
8 Posted 15/01/2019 at 16:55:21
I said before the game that this would be a watershed for Silva lose and he would lose the majority of support. Win and it may produce some more green shoots and buy him some time.
I think he has managed Lookman well and he does seem to be popular with the players but, like Martinez, he does have a tendency for kamikaze tactics which will never get us top 6 – let alone top 4.
9 Posted 16/01/2019 at 01:02:35
Many younger players need patience, guidance and a manager who inspires confidence. I also think there is an added burden when a young player is coming from another country. I am sure that it isn't easy.
10 Posted 16/01/2019 at 02:14:17
11 Posted 16/01/2019 at 06:03:26
You are one brave man!!
12 Posted 16/01/2019 at 08:18:03
13 Posted 16/01/2019 at 09:53:05
What I don't want is him anywhere near the teamsheet.
No, on second thoughts, I don't want him in the Club at all, his mate, Boys Pen Bill, will have him in the dugout again given half a chance.
14 Posted 16/01/2019 at 10:45:50
Just think about that wonderful holiday and you go again the following year but the weather isn't as good the great people you met last year aren't there and the hotel has been taken over by a chain who skimp on cleaning and food quality and you're glad to get home. Forward is the only way not backwards.
Moyes is like an ice sculpture — once a great sight... now, just a blob in a pool of water. His record since leaving Everton for greater things is abysmal. For Christ's sake — stop mentioning that name!
15 Posted 16/01/2019 at 11:34:31
16 Posted 16/01/2019 at 12:51:02
We have actually digressed from Moyes era. People used to fear playing in Goodison Park. Now, that is not the case anymore. Or have I missed something?
Rejection of Moyes is all talk. But nothing to back it up with.
17 Posted 16/01/2019 at 12:53:28
18 Posted 16/01/2019 at 13:06:39
19 Posted 16/01/2019 at 13:29:07
I have no doubt we would have finished around 6th-8th every year under Moyes, so in that aspect, we have digressed.
However we would only ever have finished 6th-8th with Moyes.
If you're happy with that... great – get Moyes back.
If you dare to dream that one day we can do better than that – then leave Moyes behind.
20 Posted 16/01/2019 at 15:05:27
It's hard to tell how much he would have achieved with a kitty of $200m seeing that he didn't get that even at Man Utd.
21 Posted 16/01/2019 at 15:37:43
However, it's hard to think Moyes would have achieved anything with some more money to back him as you only have to look at his record since he jumped ship.
22 Posted 16/01/2019 at 23:22:53
We haven't seen too much composure on the ball recently. Mind you, Lookman showed some leadership on this to a degree vs Bournemouth.
I might be howled down by commenting that I see the goalkeeper as being a leader in setting the composure of the team. But I'm more than a little worried that Pickford, in his youthfulness, has been demonstrating a considerable lack of composure, particularly since the derby game.
Early on in the game this weekend, he looked nervously animated. A thought passed through my mind that Southgate was in the crowd and maybe Pickford felt some pressure from this.
I'm not one for getting rid of him but I believe some "older heads" should be spending serious time with him on this subject.
Not that Pickford is the only one who should carry responsibility on this subject but teams seem to play better when they feel confident with the keeper.
23 Posted 17/01/2019 at 03:58:50
Using Man Utd as an example, it is obviously not easy to hire the right coach. After three failures and a bucketful of money, they may have got the right man, but nobody really knows for sure that he will continue to be a success. He certainly wasn't a success at Cardiff.
I really would like to see Silva be successful. Will we all be satisfied if he wins the next five in a row ? I am sure there are those who will say that he would need to win the next five after that.
24 Posted 17/01/2019 at 09:01:03
25 Posted 17/01/2019 at 09:13:53
I think it will click for him shortly.
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